Nutritional News

From our 3 Care Science Newsletter Six Reasons Athletes Need Omega-3

Posted: August 13, 2014
By: Dr John McAtamney

Six Reasons Athletes Need Omega-3

It’s a fact that everybody needs adequate omega-3 intake. But did you know supplementing with omega-3 offers significant benefits for athletes? If you have an active lifestyle, make sure you’re not missing out on all the good stuff omega-3 supplements can provide. Here are just five of the top reasons athletes should consider a daily omega-3 supplement.

  1. DHA reduces the damaging effects of brain trauma. Studies by the United States Army and other research groups indicate that increasing brain levels of DHA calms the inflammatory response to head injury or impact. Reducing inflammation minimizes damage and increases recovery time. Whether it is soccer, American football, skate boarding, or most other sports and physical pursuits, the potential for cranial impact is high.
     
  2. Fish oil boosts protein synthesis. It’s been shown to improve the anabolic effect of exercise and improve protein metabolism. What does that mean for you? Better muscle gains from strength training.
     
  3. Fish oil increases muscle strength and physical performance. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may exert an important influence on muscle function, helping to improve muscular strength, physical performance, and functional capacity. In a test group, people who strength trained without fish oil supplementation did not show as much of an increase in their strength than a group that strength trained and supplemented with fish oil.
     
  4. Fish oil helps the body recover after a tough workout. Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to reduce exercise-related inflammation and muscle soreness, enabling people to get back to the gym sooner. It also helps improve the body’s reaction to exercise-induced stress, which can potentially benefit the immune system.
     
  5. Fish oil improves cardiovascular function. In a group trial of male cyclists, omega-3 supplementation lowered heart rate, whole-body oxygen consumption, and the heart’s oxygen consumption. Another trial, involving wrestlers, showed an improvement in lung function when omega-3 supplements were taken daily. Research indicates that fish oil supplementation may help to improve both heart and lung function in athletes with and without exercise-induced airway constriction.
     
  6. Fish oil improves cognitive ability. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may serve to enhance decision making and reaction time efficiency in athletes by increasing communication between the brain and body. Fish oil has been associated with improved attention, reduced reaction times, and increased vigor in healthy subjects – good news for anyone playing team sports or competing.

From our 3 Care Science Newsletter Probiotics May Reduce Blood Pressure

Posted: August 13, 2014
By: Dr John McAtamney

Probiotics May Reduce Blood Pressure

Consuming probiotics has a small but significant effect in lowering blood pressure, a large review of studies has found.

Researchers reviewed nine randomized trials with a total of 543 participants. All included adults older than 18 who used probiotic products with live bacteria. The studies tested various probiotics in varying amounts, mostly strains of Lactobacillus consumed in dairy products.

Eight of the nine studies found reductions in blood pressure. Over all, compared with control groups, the use of probiotics reduced systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average of 3.56 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressure by 2.38.

These are modest reductions, but the scientists suggest that there is a potential for greater effect when blood pressure is elevated to begin with, when multiple species or large quantities of bacteria are consumed or when probiotics are used for longer than two months. The analysis was published in the journal Hypertension.

One of the study’s authors, Jing Sun, a senior lecturer at Griffith Health Institute and Griffith University School of Medicine in Gold Coast, Australia, said that consuming probiotics should be a routine part of a healthy diet. “Yogurt, cheese, fermented soy products — all of these are helpful,” she said. “We have to go beyond just fruits and vegetables.”


From our Labrix Newsletter Get the skinny on fats for brain health

Posted: August 13, 2014
By: Dr John McAtamney

Get "the skinny" on fats for brain health

The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are crucial for healthy neurotransmitter production and nervous system function. EPA is a potent anti-inflammatory, while DHA contributes to the fluidity of cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids are called "essential" fats for good reason; our bodies cannot make them, so we must get them from outside sources. EPA and DHA are found directly in fatty fish like salmon, and shorter chain omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are found in flaxseeds and walnuts, however the body must convert them into EPA and DHA for maximum benefit. Because these foods are not typically eaten in large amounts in North America, omega 3 supplementation has become an important source of these nutrients.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to the development and proper maintenance of the brain that some scientists have proposed that it was the ingestion of omega-3 EFAs that allowed the brain to evolve to the next stage in human development.

DHA plays a vital role in the structure and function of the brain and is a significant component of nerve cells and myelin. DHA's effects may be due, in part, to its effect on increasing the fluidity of cell membranes, which improves their ability to release neurotransmitters, but it may also improve cell signaling. DHA has shown to exert complex effects on the secretion of a number of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, glutamate and dopamine. Additionally, DHA plays a key role in neurotransmitter receptor function.

EPA is more involved with modulating the effects of inflammation in the brain. Unlike acute brain inflammation, as seen with meningitis and encephalitis, chronic brain inflammation can be silent except for its behavioral manifestations. Chronic brain inflammation can be the result of a number of conditions, such as abdominal obesity, latent viral infections, autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndrome, and deficiencies in omega-3 oils. Studies have revealed a close correlation between chronic inflammation and depression. It may be that omega-3 oils improve depression and other disorders by reducing brain inflammation.

Testing neurotransmitter levels often reveals imbalance in our patients. While targeted amino acid and cofactor supplementation are recommended to address specific imbalances, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be an important addition to any treatment plan.

References:

  • Chalon S, et al. Dietary fish oil affects monoaminergic neurotransmission and behavior in rats. J Nutr. 1998 Dec;128(12):2512-9
  • Chamberlain JG. The possible role of long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids in human brain phylogeny. Perspect Biol Med. 1996 Spring;39(3):436-45.
  • De la Presa OS, et al. Docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid prevent a decrease in dopaminergic and serotoninergic neurotranmitters in frontal cortex caused by a linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid deficient diet in formula fed piglets. J Nutr. 1999 Nov;129(11):2088-93.
  • Kiecolt-Glaser JK, et al. Depressive symptoms, omega-6:omega 3 fatty acids, and inflammation in older adults. Psychosom Med. 2007 Apr;69(3):217-24.
  • Kitajka K, et al. The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in brain: modulation of rat brain gene expression by dietary omega-3 fatty acids. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2002 Mar 5;99(5):2619-24
  • Litman BJ, et al. The role of docosahexaenoic acid containing phospholipids in modulating G protein-coupled signaling pathways: visual transduction. J Mol Neurosci. 2001 Apr;16(2-3):237-42

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